How to Be a Better Angler Learning and Dreaming

by Bruce Callis

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How do you become a better angler? You ask a number of people and the answer will vary. While the biggest and best answer is time on the water, just being on the water is not enough. You may have a talent for finding fish or you might just be lucky enough to happen on them, but to improve and become a better angler is a lot more complicated.

Today, unlike years when I was growing up, there is so many options on how you can improve. Years ago, back before computers and the internet, we had to attend trade shows and listen to the professionals as they talked about what they did and how to do it. We lived for the monthly issue of Bassmaster, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield or another magazine to arrive. We talked to our friends who fished to learn more. We didn’t have a ton of fishing shows to watch. Baits we bought often had instruction sheets or it was printed on the package on how to use the bait. Time on the water was very important then, and it still is.

But with so much information readily available to us today, it is so easy to watch videos on how to fish. And we can now see those anglers we came to the shows back then give an in-depth lesson on how to use his favorite or sponsor baits. And we also have on demand television shows that talk about sponsor baits and their presentations. Not to mention YouTube and the growing list of anglers who are willing to show us anything we want.

How do you become better? First, you can’t decide that one lure is better than any other until you have personally tried it. Just like our gear, all the rod and reel choices are a matter of preference, your preference. Is SPRO better than Strike King, Berkley, or any other brand? Yes to some and no to others. I like SPRO and I use them, they are my preference. But if they do not have a bait that does what I want, you have to remember that even the pros will use whatever it takes to land the bass they need to win.

You have to understand the baits you are using and what they are intended to do. You also have to understand what size line you use and other factors like speed of retrieve and rod choice can make any bait perform differently in the users hand. These are the tricks that the pros use. And these are perfected by time on the water, using the bait and figuring out how to make it work for you. A crankbait can be thrown out and retrieved at a steady pace, and it will catch bass. But by learning to make it do something different, can land you even more and bigger bass.

Soft plastics today are made by so many companies, from the big guys like Strike King, Missile Baits, Yum, and Zoom, to name a few, to the small companies like Bass Munitions, Power Team Lures, Zee Bait Company and Vertical, to name a few. They all make great baits, and each makes some special lures. I can’t say this one is the only soft plastic to use, as I have my preference. Again, it is getting to use them, finding out what works for you. Sometimes we use more than one company. If they don’t make a special bait that we like, we have no choice if we want to use that style of bait. Missile Baits makes some awesome baits, but they don’t make everything. Why? Because why should they make a bait like all the other companies. If you want a big soft plastic swimbait, you get the best on the market. They don’t make something just to have it, they make baits that are unique. Find what works for you and practice.

With so many new techniques hitting the market, YouTube is the best place to learn how to use it. Don’t limit yourself to only one angler or one review. By listening to and watch a handful of anglers talking about it and how they use it, you will find out so much more. But it is how you use it that matters and only you can figure that out by getting on the water and using it.

How do you become a better angler is really complicated but yet so easy. Study, listen, read and then practice. You can not watch a video on cranking deep ledges and expect to be an expert at it on your first attempt. You can’t go buy the latest fish finder and expect to be an expert at using it the first time out because you watched a video. Time on the water is needed in addition to our study. Some of us are lucky and get it right away, but for most of us, it’s not so simple. Practice makes us better. You weren’t born potty trained and walking around, what makes you think being an Elite Angler would be any easier. Practice and keep dreaming of winning the Bassmaster Classic, I am.

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